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Published: February 21st 2013
I havent had time to write in ages due to remote locations or staying in hostels where the internet has too many people using it and a bit patchy as a result.
I spent 3 nights in San Gil. As it is the adventure capital of Colombia, I went caving to Cueva Las Vacas, the Cows Cave. So called because they only discovered it when cows got stuck in there, at least I think that is right. Anyway, I dont feel the need to go caving anymore, at one point we had to go underwater for a few seconds to go through to the main part of the cave and that was enough adventure sports for me.
On Tuesdays the hostel hosts "Tejo Tuesdays". Tejo is a traditional game where 2kg weights are thrown into a pit flieed with clay. You get different points depending on where you hit and you might also hit the gun-powder filled pieces of paper. Almost everyone from the hostel went and the beer was very cheap, good craic.
Other highlights in San Gil include going to the market for fruit juice which they make in a measuring
Botanical Gardens, San Gil
Trees are covered in this silvery moss.
jug and then give you the jug with a straw. Super tasty. There is also a restaurant called Gringo Mikes which does all the food that gringos like including vegetarian food. Met lots of lovely people in San Gil and 3 of us got an overnight bus together up to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. The overnight bus was fine and just a little cold as they turn the air conditioning up and everyone is huddled under their blanket. I was travelling with an English guy and an Irish girl and we ended up travelling for the next 2 weeks or so.
Santa Marta is a colonial city by the sea. I stayed in the suburbs in Dreamers Hostel which I ended up using as a base for about 2 weeks. In some ways it is like being in a resort as there is a swimming pool and you have everything you need within the hostel (except water when it went off for about 12 hours and internet when is was off for 2 or 3 days). However they will help you book buses and tours etc too and you can leave your rucksack there if
Real, live parrots at Botanical Gardens in San Gil
you go off somewhere else for a few days. The house where Simon Bolivar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sim%!C(MISSING)3%!B(MISSING)3n_Bol%!C(MISSING)3%!A(MISSING)Dvar
) died is very close to the hostel although shamefully I never made it there.
I signed up for the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) trek with my English and Irish comrades. The Lost City is in Tayrona National Park which covers a vast area. The indigenous people called Tairona live in this area. There are 4 ethnic groups and the people we met and saw were called "Kogis". There were 12 of us on the trek: English, Swiss, New Zealand, Dutch, Irish, Colombian and Chilean.
The trek takes 5 days and you walk 80 km in total. Day one was a bit tough only because of the heat. By day 2, you are in the jungle proper and there is a good shade from the trees. We slept the first and last nights in hammocks. It gets a wee bit chilly at night and you need to remember to put a blanket around your backside! It is what some people would call "rustic", there was running water though which after being on Playa Blanca for 3 nights, now seems like a luxury.
We were fed well, lots of rice, chips and eggs for the vegetarian and plenty of fruit breaks. We made it to the camp before Ciudad Perdida on day 3. After lunch, we walked about 30 mins which includes taking off your shoes to cross a river, then there are 1260 steps up to Ciudad Perdida itself. The Lost City itself isnt that jaw-dropping, its more about walking through the jungle for 5 days. The city was built by the Tairona people; it is believed to be the largest of their settlements and was "discovered" in 1975. Alot of it was looted at that time and also some of it was rebuilt, so it isnt exactly was it was found. Nevertheless, its impressive.
On Day 2, we passed by a Kogi village and often passed Kogi people during the trek. Someone from the village came to speak to us and explained about the poporo which is what a man gets when he comes of age. It is gourd shaped and is worn around the neck. It contains lots of roasted, pounded sea shells. The men then chew coca leaves, dip a small stick into the poporo to
Moved so fast was hard to get a pícture
gather some of the sea shells, this mixes with their saliva and the coca leaves and releases their active components, if you will. The guys on our trek were offered some coca leaves to chew (without the sea shell stuff), the women werent allowed it. hhmmmm.
One of the other major highlights of the trek was learning a Swiss card game which you play with a Swiss-German pack of 36 cards. It is similar to a game we play called "hearts", apparently. Anyway, we spent our evenings playing this as there isnt much else to do in the jungle. We had a tournament on the last night (my idea) and much to everyones surprise, I got to the final. And then I actually drew with someone but then lost.
Right, this has taken me ages. Carnaval still to come.
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